Wednesday 17 January 2018

Israel skips human rights review

Israel has failed to take part in a UN human rights review
Israel has failed to take part in a UN human rights review

Israel has become the first nation to skip a UN review of its human rights record without giving a reason.

The president of the UN's top rights body, Polish diplomat Remigiusz Henczel, declared Israel a no-show at a meeting in Geneva and then reconvened the 47-nation Human Rights Council to decide what to do.

Israel had asked Mr Henczel to postpone the review but did not provide a public explanation.

"This is a rather unique step which has never happened in the past," said German UN ambassador Hanns Heinrich Schumacher.

But after a debate, the council unanimously agreed to defer the review until its next session in October and November at the latest. It took also take it up earlier.

Mr Henczel said the compromise would set a precedent for "how to deal with all cases of non-cooperation" in the future.

All UN nations are required to submit to Human Rights Council review every four years. The council's spokesman, Rolando Gomez, said once previously Haiti did not appear for its review but provided a reason.

Israel's absence comes as it is forming a new governing coalition following last week's parliamentary election.

US diplomats have said the council is too focused on Israel. Israel, meanwhile, said last year that it would stop co-operating with the council because of its plans for a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Diplomats from nations such as Egypt and Pakistan quickly pounced on the Israeli absence, and the opening it could provide for other countries that might want to bow out of a rights review.

Press Association

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